The Dallas Mavericks have been informed that guard Jalen Brunson intends to sign with the New York Knicks in free agency, sources told ESPN.
A meeting with the Mavs, scheduled to take place shortly after free agency opened Thursday night, was canceled in the afternoon, sources confirmed, as Brunson had decided to commit to the Knicks.
Brunson went to his meeting with the Knicks with a five-year offer of over $106 million from the Mavericks, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. New York is expected to offer Brunson a four-year deal worth $110 million, sources said.
NBA reporter Marc Stein initially reported that the meeting with Dallas had been canceled.
Brunson’s Dallas-to-New York departure has been widely anticipated for days as the Knicks made a more lucrative offer to play a bigger role for a franchise that has strong family ties, including the recent addition of his father, Rick Brunson, as an assistant coach.
Knicks President Leon Rose, who has made a series of trades since draft night to create enough Cap space to sign Brunson, is a prominent former player agent whose first client was Rick Brunson. He also represented Jalen Brunson early in his career. Rick Brunson’s recent hire reunited him with head coach Tom Thibodeau, for whom he also served as an assistant with the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves.
The 25-year-old Brunson, who is coming off a breakout season in which he averaged 16.3 points and 4.8 assists per game, intends to revitalize a New York franchise that hasn’t had a playoff series for the past nine seasons and the winner is. New York’s only postseason appearances and winning campaign during that span was 2020-21, Thibodeau’s first season as head coach of the Knicks when they went 41-31 before losing to the Atlanta Hawks as the No. 4 in the first round.
Brunson established himself as Dallas’ No. 2 option behind All-NBA guard Luka Doncic, his classmate in the 2018 draft, after joining the starting lineup on a full-time basis in December. Brunson helped lead the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 11 years and averaged 21.6 points per game in the playoffs. He exploded 41 and 31 points in first-round wins against the Utah Jazz while Doncic was sidelined by a strained calf, a strong indication that Brunson could thrive as a team’s key playmaker.
“It fits great [in Dallas], but at the end of the day my son is no different than the next man,” Rick Brunson told ESPN during that first-round series. “They try to educate them properly in terms of understanding the game, but everyone wants what Luca has. I don’t care who you are Everyone wants that feeling of “hey, I can do that too”. I don’t always think the grass is greener on the other side, but we’re going to sit down this summer and go over all the pros and cons of staying here and going somewhere else.”
Mavericks Governor Mark Cuban and General Manager Nico Harrison ranked Brunson as the franchise’s top offseason priority after the playoff run, but Dallas’ confidence in keeping Brunson steadily waned in the days leading up to the free hand.
Sources said the Mavericks were willing to give Brunson a five-year contract — which only Dallas can offer because he owns his Bird rights — that was comparable to the four-year, $85 million contract Fred VanVleet had with the Toronto Raptors had signed 2020.
Brunson, an unrestricted free agent because his rookie deal’s fourth season was not guaranteed and not a team option, turned down the Mavs’ offer of a four-year, $55.5 million contract extension after the trade deadline when Dallas- Forward Dorian Finney-Smith signed an identical offer. By this point, Brunson was confident that he would make significantly more as a free agent.
Jalen Brunson had informed the Mavs in January that he was willing to sign the overtime if it was offered at the time, Rick Brunson told ESPN during the playoffs. Dallas made the calculated decision to hold discussions until after the trade deadline if the Mavs had an opportunity to trade against a star, as an extension would have prevented Brunson from being traded for six months.